Re­serve to pro­tect rare fin­less por­poises

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By CANG WEI in­Wuxi, Jiangsu

A re­serve is to be es­tab­lished for fin­less por­poises in­Nan­jing, the cap­i­tal of Jiangsu prov­ince, to pre­vent their in­jury or de­ple­tion by the dis­tur­bance caused by the con­struc­tion of a wa­ter­way, ac­cord­ing to the Jiangsu En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Depart­ment.

The re­serve will be de­vel­oped along a 45-kilo­me­ter reach of the Yangtze River at a cost of 128 mil­lion yuan ($20.5 mil­lion), the depart­ment said,

The Nan­jing re­serve will be twice as large as the one in the neigh­bor­ing city of Zhen­jiang, where con­struc­tion work for the wa­ter­way has al­ready taken place. The Zhen­jiang re­serve, es­tab­lished in 2003, is one of China’s most im­por­tant re­serves for the en­dan­gered fresh­wa­ter and coastal mam­mals, which are thought to be rarer than the gi­ant panda.

Sur­rounded by wet­lands full of reeds, the re­serve has clean wa­ter and very few industrial de­vel­op­ments. Unau­tho­rized fish­ing is strictly con­trolled, and the wa­ters hold a wide range of fish to pro­vide food for the por­poises.

“The Zhen­jiang re­serve is a very im­por­tant eco­log­i­cal cor­ri­dor to the gene ex­change of dif­fer­ent por­poise groups living in the up­per and lower reaches of the Yangtze River,” said Wang Kex­iong, an ex­pert on por­poises at the Chi­nese Academy of Sciences’ In­sti­tute of Hy­dro­bi­ol­ogy. “The re­serve should not be de­stroyed.”

Ac­cord­ing to a 2012 sur­vey con­ducted by the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, CAS and the­World Wide Fund for Na­ture, only about 1,040 fin­less por­poises live intheYangtzeRiverandtwo lakes linked to the wa­ter­way.

The num­ber of fin­less por­poises is de­clin­ing by 13.73 per­cent ev­ery year, ac­cord­ing to re­ports in­Hu­nan Daily.

“The con­struc­tion of the wa­ter­way will badly af­fect the habi­tat of the fin­less por­poise,” said ZhuXiaofeng, a worker at the Zhen­jiang re­serve. “They may die out in the near fu­ture.”

The white-flag dol­phin, an­other rare species of fresh­wa­ter mam­mal in the Yangtze River, was pro­claimed “func­tion­ally ex­tinct” in 2006 be­cause the pop­u­la­tion was too small for the species to re­pro­duce ef­fec­tively.

The Jiangsu En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Depart­ment ac­knowl­edged that the wa­ter­way project will nar­row the wa­ters for the por­poises, and that sound waves cre­ated dur­ing con­struc­tion will af­fect the mam­mals’ echolo­ca­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems.

To pre­vent dam­age to the por­poises, only the right side of the wa­ter­way will be used when the con­struc­tion work is com­pleted, ac­cord­ing to the lo­cal gov­ern­ment. The left side will only be opened af­ter ex­perts have con­ducted a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion to guar­an­tee that it’s safe for the rare species to breed there.

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